Friday, 1 May 2009

The War of the Bombar Succession Part 1: by Neil Cogswell, Wargamer's Newsletter 81, December 1968

This is probably a bit long by the standard of usual Newsletter battle reports but I feel that a battle should be seen in its strategic and political situation.

You will notice that the wargame itself was played by absentee commanders thus allowing a really realistic re-creation of the fog of war. The work is not intended as a masterpiece of strategy or tactics: indeed both commanders showed marked weaknesses and perhaps it would be worth inviting readers to comment on the initial deployments and consequent action.

The system of absentee commanders gave an exciting game to watch and it occurred to me that this would be a good spectators' type of game if ever the Newsletter had another convention like the Military Festival at Chelsea in 1964.

War of the Bombar Succession – 1

Some Account of the Battle of Zotton

1. Historical situation
The year is 1752. Europe is exhausted after the long struggles of the War of the Austrian Succession.

2. Political Situation
The Duke of Bombar, childless and aged 84, is enforced by his debtors to pawn his duchy to His Britannic Majesty in his capacity as Elector of Hanover. Maximilian Joseph, Elector of Bavaria, has pointed out to His Highness of Hanover that by the Treaty of Westphalia Bombar, on the failure of the direct male line shall revert to the Wittlesbach Inheritance of which he is the heir. His Highness of Hanover has let it be known that he is not impressed by the pretensions of His Highness of Bavaria.

June 2nd 1752 Duke of Bombar announces his marriage to Emily Clugg

July 9th 1752 Announcement of forthcoming happy event of the Bombar/Clugg union.

August 4th 1752 Duke of Bombar expires.

August 5th 1752 Elector of Bavaria announces that he proposes to annex Bomber. Order the mobilisation of his army.

August 12th 1752 Elector of Hanover announces that he will protect the rights of unborn children.

Attitudes of other powers

The Empire - Francis, husband of Marie-Therese Queen of Hungary, in his capacity as Holy Roman Emperor announces that the Diet will consider the matter.
Prussia - Frederic II states that he cannot allow the arbitrary resettlement of states in North Germany.
France - No interest shown.
Great Britain - His Britannic Majesty's Parliament states that it dissociates itself from his Hanoverian Highness's German ambitions.

3. Military Situation
Bavaria. Count Hildburghausen has accepted command of the Bavarian forces. These have been augmented by a contingent of troops from the Saxon Circles who have declared in favour of Bavaria. On September 2nd Bavarian troops occupy Bombar and begin collecting magazines at the town of Zotton on the Bombar/Hanover border.
Hanover His Hanoverian Highness has given command of his troops to his second son William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland. In addition he has dipped into his private purse to hire some Hessians. He instructs Cumberland to liberate Bombar.

4. Strategic Situation
Cumberland sets out at once and orders his Hessian Auxiliaries to join him at Wasselburg, On September 26th his force is approaching this junction when he learns of a Bavarian force in the neighbourhood. His spies report this force as some 15,000 strong with a fair leavening of territorial troops, whose discipline is none too good.

Hildburghausen soon learns of the approach of the Hanoverians and gathers his forces at Zotton to give battle. Too late he learns of the approaching Hessians. To retreat is out of the question as this will uncover his magazine and his territorials may likely desert. He resolves to give battle.

5. The Game
Participants: H.J.C. Gerry; M.T. Brown; M.J. Majurey and F.N. Cogswell.

The game was played in two parts. The strategic captains sat in one room complete with maps and orders of battle. They received tactical reports from the tactical players. These reports were brief and only gave general descriptions. On receipt of these reports they analysed the situation and gave orders to their generals. As will be seen this can be a very interesting situation - afterwards both players felt that they had been through the very fog of war. They only drank half the beer supplied.

The tactical players were only to carry out their captains’ orders and report back. They had local initiative when enemy troops were within a quarter of a mile. The commanders could only “see” half a mile across the flat. This range of “vision* was increased when they were on a hill.

The rules used tactically have been outlined before (September 1968). The table was five foot square. The figures were 30mm Spencer Smiths. Tactical representation is one figure to 100 men, one inch to 100 yards and one move to 15 minutes. Infantry move is four inches deployed, eight inches undeployed, other arms in proportion. Long range of artillery is sixteen inches, musket three inches, one hit is scored for each six men firing at long range - each three men at short range. Melees are decided on a basis of head count times a morale throw. Morale dice are thrown in the usual situations with penalties for troops who are undeployed or have suffered severe casualties (25%). The highest dice of three is chosen for a line Infantry regiment deployed two figures deep. Other units in proportion. A dice is lost when there is a morale penalty. 5 or 6 is good morale, 1, 2, 3 or 4 is routed.

6. Orders of Battle

Commander: Count Hildburghausen
Figures (F) 1 Representative Strength (RS) 1

Prince Klemens (F) 1 (RS) 1
2 Battalions Grenadiers (F) 12 (RS) 1,200
4 Battalions Infantry (F) 24 (RS) 2,400
3 Battalions Territorials (F) 18 (RS) 1,800
2 Brigades Light Artillery (F) 7 + 2 guns (RS) 700 + 40 guns

Major-General Prevsing (F) 1 (RS) 1
4 Battalions Territorials (F) 32 (RS) 3,200
1 Brigade Field Artillery (F) 4 + 2 gun (RS) 400 + 20 guns

Major-General Xavier (F) 1 (RS) 1
9 Squadron Dragoons (F) 9 (RS) 900
4 Battalions Infantry (F) 24 (RS) 2,400
1 Battalion Franc-Tireurs (F) 6 (RS) 600

12 Squadrons Cuirassiers (F) 12 (RS) 12,000
12 Squadrons Uhlans (F) 12 (RS) 12,000
1 Battalion Infantry (F) 6 (RS) 600

Total 16,600 men: 31 Squadrons, 15 Battalions and 60 guns. (170 figures plus 3 guns)


Commander: Duke of Cumberland
Figures (F) 1 Representative Strength (RS) 1

Lieut-General Ohien (F) 1 (RS) 1
8 Battalions infantry (F) 49 (RS) 4,900
1 Brigade field artillery (F) 5 + 1 gun(RS) 500 + 20 guns

Count Lippe (F) 1 (RS) 1
4 Battalions Infantry (F) 28 (RS) 28,000
2 Battalions Grenadiers (F) 13 (RS) 13,000

Major-General Hardenberg (F) 1 (RS) 1
6 Squadrons Horse Grenadiers (F) 6 (RS) 600
9 Squadrons Dragoons (F) 9 (RS) 900

Major-General Zastrow (F) 1 (RS) 1
6 Squadrons Buckeberg Carabiniers (F) 6 (RS) 600
1 Battalion Buckeberg Carabiniers (F) 6 (RS) 600
4 Squadrons Stockhausen's Corps (F) 6 (RS) 600
1 Battalion Stockhausen’s Corps (F) 4 (RS) 400

Hereditary Prince of Hesse (F) 1 (RS) 1
6 Battalions Infantry (F) 38 (RS) 3,800
1 Brigade Field Artillery (F) 5 + 1 gun (RS) 500 + 20 guns

Total: 17,800 men: 15 squadrons, 22 Battalions, 40 guns (178 figures and 2 guns)

The respective camps are shown on the map. Both armies breakfasted and began deploying at 08.00 September 27th. The Hessians were timed to arrive some time between 09.00 and 10.30 - dependent on a dice throw. They were due to arrive over the Wasselburg Bridge.

7. Tactical Commentary

The battle may be conveniently divided into four phases;
A Deployment (08.00 to 09.30} Moves 1-6
B Probing (09.30 to 11.00) Move 7-12
C Attack (1100 to 1230) Moves 13-18
D Pursuit (12.30 to 14.00) Moves 19-24
(The game actually took three hours playing time).

Note: The design represents the Duke of Cumberland, as the white horse of Hanover, plunging amongst the standards and trophies of Bavaria while the striped bear of Hesse approaches.


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